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Your 10-point checklist to tell which solar system is right for you

Although domestic solar systems are becoming more and more popular, finding out what they do, how they do it and how they benefit Kiwi households can seem a daunting proposition.

Because few areas of technology are moving as fast as those investigating efficient and clean methods of generating power from renewable sources, it is difficult to keep up to date with new hardware and capabilities.

Which is why Harrisons Energy – in partnership with celebrity builder Peter Wolfkamp – has created a straightforward 10-point checklist. The checklist cuts through the confusion so you know the key areas to concentrate on.

Each household also has different requirements - from the working family where the home sits idle most of the day and power consumption is at its peak in the evenings, to older couples or people who work from home who use most of their power during the day. Every home has its own unique features, from roof space to latitude. This means that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a solar system and we always advise a consultation with one of our experts to finalise what’s right for you.

But to get the ball rolling here are the broad themes you need to explore to understand how solar can revolutionise your home’s power consumption and make a serious dent in your power bills.

1.The more power you use the more panel-power you’ll need. It seems obvious, but the effectiveness of your system relies ultimately on the amount of electricity your panels can convert from the sun’s rays. This means knowing the number of panels you may need, the amount of roof space you have available, and how efficient and effective those panels are in producing usable power.

2.Not all panels are created equally. Panels tend to look the same, but how well they operate can be widely different. Harrisons believes it’s important to choose a reputable brand such as LG because they last and they are already raising the bar when it come to innovation and excellence. For example, their new 25-year warranty is an industry-wide game-changer.

3.Inverters. Although the panels are the outward, obvious sign of a home’s solar system, the inverter is the real brains of the operation. They convert the direct current (DC) electricity produced by the panels into the usable alternating current (AC) that powers your home’s appliances. This is another area where advances in technology are leading to greater efficiency, more slimline models and the ability to monitor your system remotely. It all depends on budget and the type of system you choose.

4.Batteries. Possibly the most exciting advances in solar tech in recent years have been in battery storage to the point where we now believe they will be the norm for all New Zealand households in the not-too-distant future. Capture your power during the day, store it, and then use it when you need it, even if the grid fails.

5.Make sure your solar system is battery ready. Although the cost of batteries and individual household needs may mean they’re not for everyone now, Harrisons still believe they will play a part in household energy systems soon. So, it is vital for the futureproofing of a system and preventing the need of having to pay for high-cost conversions that any system installed has the potential to be hooked up to battery storage.

6.Monitor your present power usage. The size of your system needs to reflect your usage but it’s amazing how many of us don’t fully understand when our peak demand may be and where that power is being used most. A Harrisons Energy expert will be able to help you monitor all of this and ensure you’re choosing the right system to meet your needs.

7.Know your roof. A north-facing roof creates the optimal setup to make the most of the sun’s daily trajectory. Other configurations and hardware can help optimise the sunlight that reaches your panels. Here’s a guide to knowing whether your roof is suitable for an array of solar panels but, again, a solar expert will tailor the system to each home’s unique features.

8.Understand how shade/direct sunlight effects power production. In recent years, technology advancements have made great strides in this area so that shading from nearby buildings, trees or even fallen leaves and dirt doesn’t overly reduce the overall efficiency of systems. Plus, remote monitoring allows owners or third-party operators to be alerted when systems are under-performing so they can be fixed.

9.Match your system to your requirements. There’s no need to over-spec a solar system, you basically need something that produces the amount of power you need. Maybe you can make a few changes so you’re heating spas and hot-water tanks (or other high-energy tasks) during the daytime, or you decide a battery suits you best so you can harvest more power during the day. Either way, a good solar energy consultant will match the size system to your usage.

10.Know the return on your investment. As well as knowing you’re producing clean, green, renewable energy, you want to know that your solar system makes good financial sense. Harrisons Energy will let you know how much power you will produce, what impact that should have on your power bills and how long those savings should take to pay off the equivalent cost of your system.

A Harrisons Solar expert will be able to make sure you choose the system for your household’s needs and guide you through this checklist as it pertains to your home’s unique features and energy usage. Contact Harrisons Energy to book a consultation with one of our experts or visit the website to find your nearest Harrisons Energy expert and we’ll guide you through the process.